Showing posts with label Taekwondo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taekwondo. Show all posts

Are Taekwondo and Soccer Compatible?

2006 has been a World Cup Soccer year, so soccer has dominated the world’s news for the last few months. However, most people in the United States could care less about World Cup events.
Despite the efforts of soccer supporters for over 40 years, soccer has not become a major sport in the United States. It was pushed as a children’s sport in an effort to build a base of what would hopefully become adult players and supporters, but it has not worked. “Politically correct” mothers see soccer as a no-violent, competitive alternative sport to football; players struggle for the ball but they only make minimal contact with each other.

Both Taekwondo and soccer stress kicking and footwork and both require precise control and a high level of fitness, so it would seem they would complement each other. However, there is at least one major difference between the two, and I think it is a glaring difference.

In soccer, when hit by opponents, players fall to ground and behave as if they were in excruciating pain and were about to die. Once an opponent draws a red card, suddenly the downed player is miraculously healed and able to play again with no apparent problem. Players are taught that when faced with a problem, it is best to whine and complain and blame others until they get what they want. Apparently, this is acceptable behavior to many parents who believe that when faced with violence, you are supposed to whine, cry, and hope someone else will step in and protect you. Then, while others are fighting to protect you, you can continue your life as if nothing has happened.

In Taekwondo, and in all other martial arts and most other American sports, when confronted with a problem such as a hard hit, we are taught to “suck it up” and get on with the game. Therefore, the basic philosophies of Taekwondo and soccer are not compatible.

For example, as an instructor, I am constantly dealing with children and teens, and sometimes even adults, who have been conditioned to whine and complain when faced with adversity. For example, this week I had students play a reaction game in class where one student holds a hand target in front of his or her body at waist height. The other student stands in front of the student with his or her arms down the sides. This student then “fast draws” and tries to clap his or her hands to either side of the target before the other student can react and jerk the target up or down before it is trapped by the clap. If the clapper succeeds, the target is trapped. If the clapper fails, his or hands clap together with great force, causing a stinging sensation in the palms. There is no injury, just short term pain. Most students, celebrate their successes, and suck up their pain of the failures and keep trying. However, many whine and cry over the pain, blame the target holder, get angry and clap harder that causes even more pain upon a miss, quit trying, and then look to the instructor to make it better.

Taekwondo teaches students to face adversity with courage and conviction and to either overcome the adversity or accept it and make the best of the situation; not to whine and hope someone else will take care of things. For this reason, Taekwondo and soccer are not compatible.

Like It or Not, Taekwondo is the Number One Martial Art in the World

When it pertains to cars, people have their preferences. Some like cars from certain counties, such as Germany, Sweden, Japan, or the United States. Some like certain manufacturers, such as Ford, VW, BMW, or Mazda. Some cars have extras, such as GPS, leather seats, wood trim, etc., all of which add noting to the performance of the vehicle. Some cars are made for specialized purposes, such as the SUV, van, or wagon. However, all cars are basically the same, four wheels, a steering wheel, brakes, windshield, headlights, taillights, etc. The ‘in” cars, the one everyone want to have, changes periodically. The current “in” vehicle is the Cadillac Escalade. However, like it or not, the number one selling car is the Toyota Camry. It got to be the number one best selling car by providing a quality vehicle that the public wants, and by making a car that is reliable and does what the public wants it to do, and do well.

When it pertains to the martial arts, people have their preferences. Some like martial arts from certain counties, such as Japan, Okinawa, or the United States. Some like certain systems, such as Karate, Judo, or Wrestling. Some martial arts have extras, such as weapons, fancy uniforms, elaborate techniques, etc. Some martial arts are indented for specialized purposes, such as only punching, only kicking, or ground fighting. However, all martial arts are basically the same, armed or unarmed combat against another human. The current “in” martial art system is “ground fighting.” However, like it or not, the number one best selling martial art is Taekwondo. It got to be the number one best selling martial art by providing a product that the public wants, and by providing a quality martial art that is reliable and does what the public wants it to do, and do well.

If you want to study another martial art that has limited scope and limited availability, that is your prerogative. If you want to pursue the latest “in” martial art, then go for it. However, if you want to study an all around, effective martial art that may be used for defense and sport, and is available in every city in the world, then study Taekwondo. Like it or not, Taekwondo offers what the public wants.

Olympic Taekwondo

I watched the Olympic Taekwondo coverage on television and it was a major disappointment. Why do the WTF patterns have hand techniques in them if competitors never use them when sparring? Why do the WTF rules permit hand techniques in sparring if they are never used in competition, especially when there are so many opportunities to use them? The reason appears to be because you will not receive a point from the Korean influenced judges if you use a hand technique in international competition. Therefore, WTF instructors do not stress them and they have gradually disappeared.

Tae-kwon-do is the way of kicking and punching. The WTF should change the name of its martial art to Tae-do, the way of kicking. In their effort to remove the influence that Japanese karate had on traditional Taekwondo and to create a uniquely Korean martial art, the Koreans in the WTF have indeed created a new art, but one that is totally useless as a martial art. WTF Taekwondo is now a totally different entity from traditional Taekwondo. It is now a pure sport, such as is Greco-Roman Wrestling, and as such, it is now totally useless as martial art. There is no guard, there is no blocking, and there are no hand techniques. All the fighters just bounce around with their arms hanging at their sides and throw kick, after kick, after kick. It reminds me of a production of Irish Riverdance. There are no defensive techniques, only offensive kicks. An armless person could win an Olympic gold medal in Taekwondo.

I have been neutral in the WTF vs. ITF battle in the past, viewing the two arts as merely two different ways of accomplishing the same thing. However, that view has now changed. WTF Taekwondo is now purely a sport and does not deserve the title of martial art; it should be called leg fencing.

A martial art is defined as a method of self-defense. WTF Taekwondo is useless for self-defense. A WTF fighter would be slaughtered by any street thug, not an experienced street fighter, just an ordinary neighborhood thug. In a real fight, you cannot drop your guard, ignore hand attacks, and ignore kicks just because they will not score. Nothing can be ignored in a real fight, since the purpose of every attack is to hurt you.

You fight as you train. If you train in the WTF style, then, in stressful self-defense situation, you will fight that way. Likewise, if you train in the ITF style, you will fight that way. As explained in TKDTutor, the only difference between ITF sparring and a real fight is range. In a fight, the overall range is merely decreased by one or two inches so techniques are delivered with full-contact instead of a light touch. In a fight, a WTF practitioner that fights as he or she spars would be slaughtered. A street attacker is used to getting hit and getting kicked, so after blocking or absorbing a kick, the street fighter would be all over the defenseless WTF practitioner.

All this would not be a problem except that the two styles share the same name. If WTF Taekwondo had a different name, it could be considered a separate sport and be treated as such. But, because of the Olympic exposure, the world now thinks that the Taekwondo they witnessed in the Olympics is what Taekwondo really is all about. That is sad.

Update
In the the spring of 2005, the WTF rules changed so that hand attacks to the head are now permitted. Time will tell how this will affect the course of sport Taekwondo.